Friday, we noted Speaker Philip Gunn's comments about the start of Mississippi's health insurance marketplace. It's clear Gunn did not do his homework.
He noted that health insurance costs are among the highest in the nation. What Gunn did not point out is that insurance companies providing plans on the new marketplace will start offering premium rates that are on par or lower than plans not in the marketplace. For example, if you are a 26-year-old who is transitioning from your parents' health insurance to your own plan, you will find that premium rates are likely to be lower in the new market than they are today. Early reports indicate that, in some instances, individuals can obtain coverage for nearly $75 per month, after tax credits are included.
This is important to note because Gunn neglected to factor in tax credits that will help bring down the cost of the plan. When you take a plan offered on the market and calculate in the tax credits, you end up with rates lower than what Gunn is making up.
Gunn stated his belief that "We should work with providers to reduce the cost of healthcare." Again, this goes back to Gunn not doing his homework. The Affordable Care Act has systems in place to help do just that. There are provisions in place to enhance coordinated care, clamp down on fraud and duplicative billing, avoid unnecessary hospital readmissions, encourage use of health information technology, and utilize best practices. These, among other tools, are helping to bring down the cost of health care. Data show that between 2009 and 2011, the cost of health care rose around three percent. That is the lowest rate of growth since records were kept going all the way back to 1960, three years before Gunn was born.
The Speaker concluded his statement by making it clear as a bell what his Tea Party political philosophy is all about. Gunn stated "It is not the government's job to take care of its citizens." For folks like Gunn and the Tea Party, they really mean that it is every man or woman for himself or herself. It's why they oppose the Affordable Care Act the way they do; the bill puts more consumer protections in place to help ordinary Mississippians fight against a system that is stacked against the average person.
Since the bill was signed into law in 2010, Gunn, Phil Bryant, and their Tea Party cohorts have been doing everything in their power to discredit, delay, dismantle, and disable it. Gunn and the Tea Party have been hoping for failure since the outset. Sadly, it is the nearly 500,000 Mississippians currently without health insurance coverage who end up taking the hits because of Gunn and the Tea Party's out-of-touch attitude.